- By Dr. Subir Mallick
The secret to staying competitive in the healthcare market today is being able to deliver quality products while being responsive to changing customer needs. And technology is a big part of making that possible.
UnitedHealth Group (UHG), the largest single health carrier in theU.S., is serving about 70 million Americans. In the past five years, the company has made significant investments in research and development, technology and business process improvements to ensure the delivery of quality care. These investments have led to changes that are improving the way care is delivered and administered across the entire industry.
Over the past decade, UHG has acquired a number of companies to grow market share and revenue. UHG is now a $100 billion dollar entity. This has been a winning strategy for UHG, but it brings challenges, especially from a technology standpoint.
Many of these acquired companies had their own document management systems so maintenance quickly became a serious issue. It was simply not cost-effective to administer and support so many different systems, with each consuming the time of many IT staff members. In addition, the aging and disparate systems made it difficult to comply with stringent industry standards and regulations and prepare for pending healthcare reform.
It was clear we needed to upgrade and unify the existing systems into a scalable enterprise-wide content management platform. Our goal was to find a single solution that offered better collaboration, faster and more detailed patient analysis and one that was easily accessible by doctors, practitioners and staff.
Enter IBM. Using IBM’s Content Management software tools, which support open standards, we are able to quickly migrate and update our existing UHG systems via a plug-and-play approach. This is a huge benefit for a company like ours. For instance, if we need to add or remove capabilities next week, next year, or five years down the road, we don’t have to start from scratch. We can easily accommodate those changes to make things easier for current employees, new employees and our patients.
Using IBM’s content management software tools, we can capture and store emails, digital files, paper documents and faxes from all of these systems into a single repository. And we can extract key information to categorize each document with more than 95 percent accuracy. For example, we can scan customer complaint letters and attach metadata, such as patient number and insurance company, to map each document image to the correct database records and workflow for prompt attention by the responsible customer service representative.
The result? Today, more than 40,000 UHG employees can find the content they need more quickly. And our customers numbering in the millions can access their documents online. We expect the system will enhance governance and retention of Big Data, which in our case is billions of documents across the organization representing close to 500TB.
We have already reduced document accessing times from days to seconds, and we project millions of dollars per-year savings in storage costs using IBM Content Management when the solution is fully deployed.
UHG is committed to the delivery of quality care and its continual improvement, and we’re now in a much better position to support our employees and deliver high-value services to our customers.
Dr. Subir (Sam) Mallick will be speaking on Big Data and content management at this week’s IBM 2012 IOD Conference #IBMIOD and #IBMECM